As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
February 29, 2012
All I can say for Liberty Tax is the North Bend business goes out of its way to get noticed. They take advertising to a new level.
Several months ago I happened to see a large picture of several men dressed in outlandish clothing standing on a street corner in the Coos Bay area ‑ waving some kind of liberty sign. I couldn’t make sense of it, but I did notice that one of the men was well known to me (and not in a particularly positive way) as Tom Bulrice, who has been “86ed” (common slang term for trespassed) from several area businesses. Oh well, I thought, at least he’s staying out of trouble.
I didn’t think much about it until a few weeks later when I was in Brian Vick’s office … and in walked a guy wearing the same ridiculous garb.
He handed Brian a sack of cookies and some literature about this Liberty Tax business, which is apparently located in North Bend … as well as in Eureka, Calif.
I immediately chimed in by saying that I’d seen people similarly dressed in the paper, and I asked if Tom Bulrice were a partner in his business. He assured me that he was just someone they’d hired off the street (to stand on the street).
A week later I found an advertising piece stuck to my front door. I immediately thought it had come from a church group as several people, who are well known for canvassing neighborhoods, live nearby.
The first thing I saw was “Get $50 Cash Now!” in bright gold letters. Then in much smaller type I noticed this was just one more ploy by Liberty Tax (whoever they are) to get my business.
I’m about ready to post my property as off-limits to solicitors.
I don’t really care to have someone come to my door … selling anything (whether it’s religion or tax services.)
* * *
Since most of my news comes from reading newspapers, or watching TV news, I seldom, if ever, read the blogs on Bandon Western World’s website. The main reason is because I do not want to read ramblings from people who choose not to identify themselves. It is always easy to say hateful things … if no one knows who you are.
So I was surprised when a friend, Johnny Sorenson, stopped me the other day to comment on several blogs he’d read below a letter on taxation that I’d written to Western World sometime last month.
It seems that there were several pretty derogatory remarks; one said “he” wondered how I could find the time to research the tax information that I’d put forth. Since it was the Powers city tax rate that I was comparing to Bandon’s, I just want to say that it didn’t take even a minute to look at the tax statement for my Powers property to come up with the information.
But, since I’ve not read the blogs, I won’t comment further.
But at least I’m not afraid to sign my name to whatever I write … no matter the fallout.
* * *
I learned yesterday that Dr. Carlos Suarez, who has practiced medicine out of the Bandon clinic of North Bend Medical, will be leaving town around the first of April. A friend of mine saw a letter that he’d sent to his patients, so that’s all I know. I believe he is leaving the state for another job.
* * *
As you may have read in my column earlier, The Oregonian and Salem Statesman Journal newspapers prevailed in a lawsuit requiring the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System to make public the PERS recipients and the amount they are receiving. These are basically lifetime benefits.
Anyone who is interested in looking up this information can go to: gov.oregonlive.com/pers/search and enter the person’s name you want to look up.
You will find some very interesting statistics.
For example, Cliff Walters (the former school superintendent) receives a monthly benefit of $6,723.05 for a total of $80,677 a year. Coos County Commissioner Bob Main is receiving monthly PERS benefits of $4,512.31 for a total of $54,148 a year.
Anyone who wonders why people are concerned about the future of Oregon’s public employees retirement system need only look at these figures.
* * *
I just heard about a new scam that targets restaurants and other merchants.
The owner of The Loft restaurant, Caryn Fieger, emailed me Friday evening to share with me something that had just happened to them.
They had earlier received a call, supposedly from a hearing impaired, disabled woman with lung cancer. She was using the AT&T relay service for hearing impaired, and proceeded to order 150 pork sandwiches for a birthday party. She asked The Loft to charge the sandwiches to a credit card and gave them a Coquille address. She also asked that they send some money to a courier who was to pick up the sandwiches.
“We were suspicious and checked to see if the card was stolen. It was not a stolen card, but the name on the card didn’t match the name the woman gave us. We found out that this is a very successful scam. The person uses a computer to hijack the AT&T hearing impaired relay. When you call back the number, it is in fact AT&T. I imagine this is enough for some people to believe they are dealing with a real person. If we had completed the transaction, we would have been not only out the money and time for the sandwiches, and the money we sent to the courier, we would have been responsible for the entire amount charged to the card,” Fieger said.
People must lay awake nights thinking up new ways to scam someone.
This is one I hadn’t heard about.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
February 22, 2012
My friend Judy Knox, director of the Bandon Historical Society museum, is the latest “victim” of a scam that sent emails to everyone in her address book indicating that she was in a foreign country, and desperately needed money.
The email was sent through the museum’s address, and pretty much went to everyone in their address book.
Someone from out of town noticed it and immediately alerted Judy.
I can’t actually imagine anyone falling for this … without at least checking to see if the person really is in Italy, Spain, or wherever they are supposed to be visiting, before sending a big chunk of money.
It must be successful or why would people continue to try it. The one that bothers me the most is the grandparents’ scam where an older person is awakened in the middle of the night by a call from her frantic “grandson” who needs money right away, but doesn’t want anyone to tell his parents. That should be a red flag right there.
I do know that people right here in Coos County have fallen for this, and it’s been costly.
One of the original scams supposedly originated in Nigeria. People were receiving letters and emails from Nigeria, indicating they would inherit a great deal of money, but first they had to wire money in order to be eligible to receive the inheritance.
I noticed that the local Western Union office (inside Ray’s Food Place) has a prominent sign advising that they do not wire money to Nigeria.
Maybe they should say they won’t wire money for senior citizens – unless they have proof that the person they are sending money to is legitimate.
It may be coming to that ….
* * *
The Oregon Department of Transportation never ceases to amaze me. As many of our tourist-related businesses continue to struggle – particularly in the winter months – business owners wait anxiously for a three-day weekend.
And that’s why the decision by ODOT to completely close Highway 42 at the county line (between Myrtle Point and Camas Valley) shocked so many people. As Monday was President’s Day (or is, depending on when you are reading this), motels, restaurants and businesses were anticipating a big boost.
In spite of calls from the City of Bandon, Julie Miller from the chamber, at least one city councilor and a number of area businesses, ODOT stood by their earlier decision: this would be the weekend that they would repair the damage caused by the Jan. 19 slide. Of course, they could have opted to do the work during the week, but that would upset commerce, and they couldn’t do that.
Some of my dealings with ODOT have not necessarily been positive, so I am not surprised that they absolutely refused to move off this weekend.
I know for a fact that several motels had cancellations and I am sure there were many others who would have come to Bandon, had they not had to head down the freeway to Sutherlin and then over Highway 38.
Our market has long been Roseburg, Grants Pass and Medford, and those are the folks who were essentially cut off from traveling to the Coast. Marc Dryden from the Best Western urged motel owners to keep track of their cancellations if they were related to the highway closure. They will provide that information to the ORLA (Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association) lobbyist.
It’s too bad ODOT didn’t bother to contact the city or the chamber when they were deciding what weekend would be best to do the work. It wasn’t an emergency and surely it could have waited until next weekend.
But that’s how bureaucrats operate.
* * *
Although I can no longer access KCBY-TV because I have the satellite, and it’s not available, I was curious as to why long-time anchor Tim Novotny was leaving the station. It didn’t say he was fired, or he was retiring, or he had another job. He was just leaving.
It appears that former Coos Bay resident (and former Bandon Rotarian) David Walker will be anchoring the KCBY news from the KVAL studios in Eugene.
Someone else told me that Jennifer Winters (long-time evening newsperson) is leaving at the end of February (but I haven’t seen that in print), and they already fired Shelley Kurtz.
It doesn’t appear that a job in local TV isn’t any more stable than a career in the newspaper business.
I’m still smarting from the fact that Steve McCasland is no longer working for Western World.
I’m thankful that the Herald is owned by a local couple – and not a corporation.
We don’t have to keep looking over our shoulders to see if we still have a job.
* * *
I was totally surprised to see the story about the port restrooms in last Thursday’s World – two weeks after the vandalism had actually occurred, and long past the time that cameras had been installed and the restrooms were reopened.
The World, of course, has access to all the stories that appear in Western World, and when Amy’s story ran the previous week in W.W., it was timely. When it ran two weeks after the fact in the Coos Bay paper, it was outdated, to say the least.
I understand that the cameras have already caught someone walking out of the men’s room with a soap dispenser in his arms. I’m not sure they have figured out who the guy was, but when they do, I am sure he will be arrested. Whether or not he was responsible for the other vandalism, I have no idea.
The Port of Bandon deserves a huge vote of thanks for providing those restrooms for the tourists, locals and sport and commercial fishermen.
This is an expensive undertaking, and when acts of vandalism occur repeatedly, I would certainly understand if they threw up their hands and said “we can’t do this any longer.”
But knowing Gina and her crew, they will find a way to continue providing this very important service.
And the cameras may well be an answer.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
February 15, 2012
Every time I attend a performance at the Sprague Community Theater, I count my blessings that a town the size of Bandon could have such a wonderful facility, alongside a first-class library and a spacious community center.
But what makes it even more special is the dedication of Bandon Showcase, the group of dedicated Bandon people who bring some top-notch performers to the stage. Although I believe it was nearly sold out Saturday night, there seemed to be a lot of empty seats. “Mr. Showcase” (Joe Sinko) said a lot of people in town have caught the bug. I’ve heard that some kind of stomach flu hit the grade school particularly hard, and both kids and their parents have been down with it.
That’s one bug I try hard to avoid and so far, knock on wood, I’ve managed but judging from the empty seats around us, not everyone was so lucky.
* * *
Until a couple of years ago, I’d never even heard of “Craig’s List,” and I certainly didn’t think that it would help me sell my house, but it did.
I’d had a string of local people looking at the house that I grew up in, across from the old cheese factory, but I’d only had one offer early on (when it was listed with Brian Vick), but it just didn’t work out. So we put it on Craig’s List and immediately got a flood of email requests from people wanting to see pictures of the property. My guess is we had contacts from easily 30 or 40 people.
Then, shortly before Labor Day, a couple from Oxnard, Calif., contacted me. And after looking at the pictures, they wanted to drive up, stay the night in a local motel and look at the house. The woman I was communicating with seemed so anxious to see it that I was afraid that she, like the others who had toured it, might be disappointed so I discouraged her and she canceled her reservation. They continued to look for houses in other areas, wanting to move out of Oxnard, but failed to find anything that suited them. And she contacted me again. This time she was adamant. They wanted to come up and see the house. And they did. And the rest, as they say, is history.
They moved here in the middle of January with a huge moving van full of furniture (in what turned out to be one of those gorgeous winter days that we’ve been having so many of this winter). A week earlier and their furniture would have been ruined just trying to get it into the house.
Since I’d only met them once, I didn’t recognize the friendly couple that waved to me as I walked into the Lions pancake breakfast several weeks ago. It wasn’t until I started to leave that she came over to me and I realized it was Nancy Mascio and her husband, Michael, already taking part in community events.
They really seem to love it here and I know they are going to be a great addition to the community.
* * *
Don Chance, who is among those spearheading meetings across the county in opposition to a proposal by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the Bandon Marsh, made it crystal clear at the meeting in Bandon Saturday morning that they absolutely do not condone any kind of graffiti, vandalism, etc., from their group.
If you read the Western World last week, you know that someone defaced one of the Bandon Marsh signs. Chance also told me after the meeting that he was upset that the paper had put the notice of their meeting directly below the defaced sign.
As I looked around the room at the huge crowd I didn’t see anyone that looked like he or she would have been out spray painting signs.
They have a bigger goal: derail plans by the Service to purchase land on both sides of the Coquille River up to rivermile 10.2.
Several members of the group have said that the article I had in the Herald several weeks ago has been by far the best one from any area news source, and they have shared it with many groups and sent it “far and wide.”
Unfortunately, we only have a few copies left, but I will be glad to share the story with anyone who contacts me.
* * *
An article in the Bend Bulletin was forwarded to me last week by city councilor Brian Vick, and I then sent it on to a couple of other councilors.
An attack dog, which is attached to the Bend Police Department, got loose from the backyard of his handler and attacked a jogger last week.
It seems that the mistake the jogger made (besides being in the wrong place at the wrong time) was to run past the officer’s patrol car. Even though the dog, Haras, was “off duty” that meant only one thing to him. (I guess the writer meant attack anyone within sight).
My ex-husband was a state policeman, and he was very familiar with dogs of this nature, but he always said that the dog would attack only on command. But that apparently wasn’t the case with this dog. He attacked someone simply because he happened to be in the neighborhood.
The jogger was treated and released from the hospital.
The Bandon Police Department has a new dog, being trained by Sgt. Larry Lynch, but this is a drug dog (a friendly black lab) and not one trained to attack on the job – or obviously, off.
One friend had this observation when I sent her the item: “Well, if it had been a pit bull, the victim would be in the market for a new leg, or worse. That’s the thing: lots of dogs bite, but one can recover from a bite. That’s not our biggest worry.”
* * *
With that I’ll segue into another item sent to me this week that didn’t have such a happy ending; in fact it didn’t have a happy ending at all.
The family of a 5-year-old North Carolina girl who was fatally mauled by two pit bulls has been awarded a $20,000 wrongful death lawsuit. Last year, two pit bills attacked and killed Makayla Woodard and injured her grandmother who tried desperately to save her. This week, a judge approved the settlement in the civil case against the dogs’ owner, Michael Gordon. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Three days after the fatal attack, a Union County (NC) commissioner wanted to see the breed banned. But state law prohibited any county from banning a specific breed. Not willing to give up, the commissioner said he plans to research what they can do to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. “You take away the risk; you take away the problem,” said Commissioner Jon Thompson.
A spokesman for the National American Pit Bull Terrier Association encourages cities to implement a dangerous dog law instead.
The man added: It’s a privilege, not a right, and I keep repeating that to everybody. Nobody says we get the right to own a dog; it’s a privilege and you should be responsible for it, just like we are our kids.”
That’s not a particularly good argument when you consider the juvenile crime rate across the country!!
* * *
Bandon Postmaster Dave Robinson (who lives in Myrtle Point where he serves on the school board and has a son on the police force) has an extensive background in disaster preparedness and he writes a weekly column for the Myrtle Point Herald. He’s also had several of his columns in Western World and, believe me, they are well worth reading – and heeding.
The one for this week’s Herald is titled “Normalcy Bias,” and it was like he was talking to a lot of people I know.
Dave says “Normalcy bias is defined by Wikipedia as the state of mind people enter when faced with a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred, then it never will.”
A lot of people have died in disasters that they never expected to occur … because they never bothered to prepare.
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
February 08, 2012
There’s been quite a bit in the news lately about a spate of burglaries in the Sunset City Addition, south of Bandon. Unfortunately for the people who live in that area, they are not in the city limits, and unless something has changed in the last couple of years, it seems that most of them still do not want to be part of the city.
I understand they have been talking about signage, cameras and other anti-crime measures, as well as the possibility of a contract with a security company.
The issue of residents contracting with the city for police services raised a lot of red flags, which were pointed out to the council by our city manager Matt Winkel.
His questions ranged from: Is it legal? Who gets coverage? Who has to pay? What happens if somebody doesn’t pay or is late paying – do they get cut off until they pay? What if somebody doesn’t want to pay but their neighbors do – does the nonpaying person get protection?
The biggest issue he raised was this: “What would the liabilities be for not being able to respond to an in-City call because an officer was busy outside the City? Would the county sheriff (who is responsible for property outside of incorporated cities) feel his toes were being stepped on? Would the county commissioners have or want some type of authority over Bandon police activities in unincorporated county areas?
Police Chief Bob Webb sent a memo to the council explaining their position: “Sunset City is just one example of low police coverage throughout the county. As I explained to the residents of Sunset City in the past, we will respond to IN PROGRESS crimes. This means we will respond to burglaries in progress as in where there is a suspect actively inside the residence or outside attempting to break in at the time of the call, medical emergencies or a suspected prowler call. We do not have the manpower to respond to burglaries in the County that were committed the night before or days or weeks before being discovered. Our first priority is to the citizens of Bandon who pay our salaries/taxes and depend on us to respond in a timely manner.”
Chief Webb added that they are working with the sheriff’s office to catch the suspect or suspects that are committing the burglaries in the City and in the County.
* * *
I was very sad to learn that my long-time friend, former colleague and wonderful writer Steve McCasland has been the latest victim of Lee Enterprise’s austerity program. They are the large corporation which owns newspapers across the country, including The World and Bandon Western World. They recently filed bankruptcy, citing debts of $1.2 billion, and are now on a plan of reorganization.
According to my sources, Steve has been laid off (or call it whatever you want to) but may elect to work through this week and possibly next, but after that he will be gone from the pages of Western World where he has worked for over 30 years. He has handled all the sports, and only last week he wrote a very interesting article about Gina and Bob Dearth’s experiences during the storm as they tried to keep the boats in the harbor from being battered to pieces.
I only wish we could afford to hire Steve at the Herald, but since I know how much he loves golf, maybe he can find something at the Dunes. I certainly wish him the best in whatever he decides to do.
* * *
The board of directors of the Bandon Youth Center are still pinching themselves over the success of their largest ever fundraiser, held two weeks ago at Harbortown Events Center. Board chairman Chris Powell said they raised about $9,500, which definitely makes it their most successful to date. They hated to turn people away, but they had basically run out of food and places to sit, and just weren’t prepared for the huge crowd that greeted them.
Next year, they’ll be moving up to the Barn/Community Center, which is a larger venue, and hope for the same kind of success.
Last Saturday, the Bandon Lions held their auction and pancake breakfast at the Community Center, and from the number of people who showed up, I’d say they also did well, but I don’t have actual figures.
* * *
St. John Episcopal Church has welcomed a new priest, the Rev. Beth Hoffmann, who held her first service at our church on Feb. 5. She was joined at the service by her husband, Bud; daughter, Emily, from Hood River; and a friend, Nancy, who had helped drive out from Connecticut, which took them nearly a week.
She’s a warm and wonderful person, and I think people will find that she will be very active in the community and hopefully bring more people into our small church. We’re a close-knit group but we always welcome newcomers and visitors.
* * *
People were wondering why the Port of Bandon restrooms were closed on Saturday. There was a good reason. The Port has had a run of vandalism in the men’s restroom for several months. Thursday, after the completion of painting the stall doors and wall and freshening up everything, someone went in around 3 p.m. (yes in the middle of the day) and carved up the back side of the stall door and sliced and cut-up eight rolls of toilet paper with a knife or razor.
Port Manager Gina Dearth is extremely frustrated, and said that it’s pretty quiet from a tourist standpoint (and there’s no boating activity), but she said the damage is being done by locals. She has a pretty good idea where it’s coming from, but until they catch whoever is doing this, I think it’s best that I don’t say.
They are being forced to install cameras in the area, and when that project is completed, the restrooms were to re-open.
Vandalism has also run rampant at City Park, but officials don’t believe it’s the same group that is responsible for that.
I can’t for the life of me understand what thrill a person gets from destroying public property … but then I don’t think like a vandal. Maybe someone who does could send me an anonymous letter and tell me why they do it. Are they bored? Are they drunk? Are they stoned? Are they lashing out at authority? Who knows!
As I See It
by Mary Schamehorn
February 01, 2012
I’ve heard varying reports of how many house burglaries there have been in the last couple of weeks, but I know for sure that a vacation rental dwelling in the Sunset City Addition (which is very near town but outside the city limits) was hard hit by burglars.
I believe that they pretty much took everything they could carry away, including appliances, rugs, towels, TVs, etc.
It’s unlikely that the neighbors would even notice a strange vehicle in the driveway since the VRD is popular and very often rented, so there’s seldom the same vehicle there. In a neighborhood of single-family homes, your neighbor might notice if a strange vehicle were there for an extended period of time. Or at least you hope they would.
Apparently entry was gained with a crowbar.
I’ve also heard that another residence in the same area lost a lot of tools, but I’m not sure it was a VRD.
The police apparently have a lead on who’s responsible for at least some of the recent burglaries, but it doesn’t hurt for people to be a little more aware than usual about what is going on next door and in the neighborhood.
It’s better to call dispatch and report something … and find out that the person has the right to be there … than it is to do nothing and find out your neighbors have been burglarized.
* * *
I don’t think anyone was more surprised with the huge turnout at the Bite of Bandon (Bandon Youth Center) auction than the youth center board members. I understand they finally had to turn people away. Last year the attendance was small, and this year they decided to ramp things up a bit by having foods from a lot of different restaurants and lots of publicity. Or maybe it was the fact that they sold tables in advance. But when I arrived, there was a line waiting to get into the Harbortown Events Center … and people just kept coming and coming and coming.
My guess is that next year they’ll have it at the Barn/Community Center, which can hold considerably more people.
That will also be the venue for the Bandon Rotary Club auction, scheduled for April.
I am not sure how much the Youth Center raised, but I would guess it was their most successful fundraiser to date.
* * *
I’m always surprised when I find out what people are paying for high-end homes in this economy. I understand that the late Don Arvold home on Trout Pond Lane was donated to Sacred Heart Hospital by the current owners. A friend says that although it didn’t sell at auction, it sold a short time later for $175,000. Having been in the house, I can only say that was literally a steal for a beautiful home overlooking the water. I know it was listed at one point for more than $900,000.
There are some wonderful deals out there if one just knows how to find them.
Note: The source of my information about the Don Arvold house was not correct. Sacred Heart did receive a $175,000 offer on the house, but it was not accepted, and at the present time, they will either rent it or wait until the market rebounds and sell it.
* * *
I’ve been sorting through some of the thousands of old negatives and well-worn black and white snapshots that I’ve saved over the years … including many from my decades as reporter/editor of Western World. Actually I was doing that when I should have been writing my column, but it is so cool to look at the old pictures and try to remember how things were in Bandon when I was growing up. I found one of me standing beside a man, who I assume was George Chappell, because it’s alongside a gas pump at the Chevron station that he owned across from the cheese factory property. (It’s now the gravel parking lot east of the Station Restaurant). But, from what I can gather by the background, the enlarged cheese factory hadn’t even been built yet as the building across the highway was the Dairy Co-op, which I gather was the small building that housed the original Coquille Valley Dairy Co-op. I have other pictures that show the feed store alongside the Co-op, with a road leading from the highway back to Third Street. Later the feed store was torn down to make way for the larger cheese factory, which was torn down a few years ago by Tillamook Cheese.
Hopefully, it won’t be long before Bandon can brag that it once again has a cheese factory, and if that happens, you can thank Urban Renewal for having purchased the property from Tillamook.
A private developer has pledged to build the cheese factory, and they have been in negotiations with milk producers, etc., as they finalize their plans.
* * *
My sisters and I were sitting in the sun in front of Pacific Blues Saturday when a man ran up and asked if he could have part of our paper. My first thought was: “actually we just bought it and we haven’t even had time to read it, let alone share it with you.”
That was before I realized that his little dog had just left his “calling card” on the sidewalk in front of the Continuum, and he wanted to clean it up. So, of course, we immediately shared one of the sections of paper that we weren’t planning to read anyway.
This leads me into a subject that is dear to responsible pet owners who enjoy walking the trails and pathways around Bandon … if they can avoid the piles of dog poo that seem to be everywhere.
It seems that no matter how many signs you put up, there are still a lot of people who simply don’t care enough to pick up after their animals. And, unless the police actually see it, or someone else sees it and is willing to sign a complaint (if they can find out the name of the offender – the owner, not the dog) it’s hard to ticket someone.
I understand there’s a pretty stiff fine for not picking up after your animal, but it’s kind of like smoking within 10 feet of a door or window in the business district, unless someone files a complaint, nothing is likely to happen.
It would seem that if a person loves his or her dog enough to take him for a walk, he would be conscientious enough to pick up after him.
But I guess, in many cases, I’m wrong.
* * *
As I was reading the daily Governing.com website, an item titled “Small-Town Kentucky Mayor Shot Dead,” got my attention.
The article doesn’t say anything about a motive, but apparently a man walked into the police station in the town of 2,500 people around 1 in the morning and announced that he had killed the mayor. They went to the mayor’s home, where they found him dead in the bedroom.
Where is Paul Harvey when we need him? I would definitely like to know “the rest of the story.”
I am sure it’s more salacious than disagreeing with the mayor over a lot-line adjustment.
previous columns by mary schamehorn